When producing a fictitious manhunt, creative minds in the entertainment industry can dream up some of the most inventive applications of technology to fight crime. Most of these applications lack specific details and generally stay in the realm of make-believe, but sometimes life imitates art.
IBM on Dragnet wants “just the facts, Ma’am”
The June 10, 1949, US radio episode of Dragnet, titled “The Nickel-Plated Gun,” tells the story of a nickel-plated .44 caliber Smith and Wesson pistol that is used in multiple, seemingly unrelated shootings. Sergeant Joe Friday and his team use “the IBM” and other IBM machines to help crack the case.
Tabulators on the case
In 1935, the romantic thriller Let ‘Em Have It, released in the US and Europe, featured tabulating equipment used by law enforcement officials in fighting crime. IBM provided the necessary equipment and also a consultant on the set. James Buxton, a customer serviceman for the Tabulating Machine Division, was loaned to the production for two days and two nights, and acted the part of the equipment operator.
IBM in “The Iron Cop”
In 1954, the US CBS television police drama Suspense produced an episode titled “The Iron Cop” wherein an old-fashioned detective who doesn’t believe in the new-fangled tabulating equipment technology of the day finds his life saved at the last possible moment by younger colleagues armed with information from an IBM 101.
CSI gets microscopic
The atomic force microscope (AFM) is a descendant of the Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) developed by IBM. AFM technology made its broadcast television debut in 2008 on the globally popular crime series, CSI: Miami. In an episode entitled “Rock and a Hard Place,” forensic experts use the AFM to examine a pill found during a murder scene investigation. In reality, nanotechnology is steadily gaining acceptance in forensic science.